International Association of Machinists v. State of Wisconsin

Type of Case: Good Government; right to work

Court: Dane County Circuit Court; District III Court of Appeals

Case Number: 2015-CV-628; 16-AP-820

Filed On: March 10, 2015

Current Status: Court of Appeals upheld Right to Work

On March 9, 2015, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation making Wisconsin the 26th “Right to Work” state.  The law prohibits employers from forcing their employees to join or financially support a union.  The law protects workers from being required to support political organizations they don’t agree with.

The very day the law went into effect, unions filed suit challenging the law.  They argue that they have a constitutionally-protected “property interest” in the dues paid by non-members, and the government can’t take that away without giving them something in return.  That argument has been rejected repeatedly across the country, because the unions do get something in return – they get the right of exclusive representation, meaning they don’t have to compete with another union in the same shop and don’t have to worry about an employer giving non-members better treatment.

In partnership with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center and four individual non-union member employees.  The court accepted our brief and invited us to appear and argue at a hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

Unfortunately, the judge sided with the unions, declaring Right to Work unconstitutional. That judge refused to stay his ruling, but the court of appeals acted quickly to halt it. The court of appeals later reversed the circuit court, upholding Right to Work.

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